In his evocative article on how the role of the Guardian’s librarian, and indeed the newspaper’s library, has changed over the years (The Guardian librarian: ‘There was a tart exchange with management about photocopiers’, 6 June), Richard Nelsson refers to the library index “going back to Victorian times”. One of the contributors to that index would certainly have been William Axon, who had started his working life at Manchester Reference Library in 1861 at the age of 15. A founding member of the Library Association, in 1874 he joined the Manchester Guardian as the office librarian.
As his obituarist pointed out (Manchester Guardian, 29 December 1913), “he was always glad to be consulted on any erudite point in literary and historical scholarship”. But perhaps one of his greatest achievements was to successfully campaign for the Sunday opening of Manchester’s libraries, the only day off for many workers.
Dr Christine Verguson
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